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One out of four urban households use “hanging latrines”, says report

One in Four household use ‘hanging latrines’ in urban areas in Uganda (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – A Twaweza’s Sauti za Wananchi report has revealed that one in four households (25%) in urban areas use “hanging latrines”, situated above water – either -a stream or lake.

The report entitled Twaweza’s; New Sauti za Wananchi (Voices of Citizens) survey says one in twenty urban households (5%) use flush toilets and one in five (19%) use a ventilated pit latrine.

Sauti za Wananchi is a nationally-representative, high-frequency mobile phone panel survey that collects data from 2,000 respondents in the baseline survey of the Sauti za Wananchi panel, conducted in August and September.

The report also highlights that many homes have awful smells because latrines are so near the surface exposing many people to diseases.

This comes at the time UBOS statistics have indicated that the percentage of the population practising open defecation, using flying toilets [Polythenes] and using “hanging latrines ‘ in urban areas stands at 12.6% (about 970,227.342) out of the urban population of 7,700,217 people.

“A latrine has to be set up in a convenient location with a good drainage at least 30 metres away from any springs, streams or rivers, six metres from a home but in Kampala, people are using hanging latrines over the swamps that are sources of clean water for all,” reads the report in part.

The SDG6 target 2 states that by 2030 achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in a vulnerable situation

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) projected Uganda’s population to be 38,667,810 persons by mid-year 2018 at an average growth of 3% with 80% (30,967,593) persons living in rural areas.

The report reveals that ‘hanging latrines’ as an arrangement can be very bad for public hygiene and encourages the spread of water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

The report reveals further that one in twenty urban households (5%) use flush toilets and one in five (19%) use a ventilated pit latrine while in rural areas, four in ten (37%) use ventilated pit latrines.

Several scientific studies by the National Environmental Management Authority and the Department of Chemistry at Makerere University, reveal that most springs in the city contain a bacteria called E. Coli. This bug originates from faeces, and its presence is evidence that the water is contaminated.

“The consequence of having ‘hanging latrines’ has been the frequent outbreaks of water-borne diseases mainly cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery and slums have been hit hardest by cholera outbreaks over the years,” reads the report.

Dr David Serukka, the former KCCA director of public health and environment said ‘hanging latrines in the slums are rarely appropriate (due to the direct pollution of water) and should only be considered if other options are not possible.

“And at least 15m from a well or a spring or any other source of water in order not to pollute the water,” said Dr David Serukka,

Dr Muhammad Mulongo said urban residents have to be encouraged to boil water before drinking, eat warm food, wash hands before and after eating, avoid fetching water from swamps/rivers, avoid eating foods and embrace good pit-latrines practices.

Dr Mulongo explained that the rainy season is on and that it is often associated with various challenges such as floods and cholera outbreaks and that people staying in swamps should watch out.

He said it is important for urban dwellers to have ventilated improved latrines (VIP) which are equipped with ventilation pipes to get rid of flies and smells, and a concrete platform that’s easy to keep clean.

“And these improved latrines for the urban poor have proven so effective the people rather than having hanging latrines’ or even flying pit latrines that are likely to cause disease,” said Dr Mulongo.

The survey indicates that although about 84% of the children below five years sleep under a mosquito net in Uganda, about 5% use an untreated bed-net, while one in ten (11%) do not sleep under any type of net.

About a hanging latrine

A hanging latrine consists of a superstructure and floor built over water or Wetland and a squat hole in the floor allows excreta to fall directly into the water below.

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